Lifelong Learning by Liggy Webb

Self-education is lifelong curiosity

Lailah Gifty Akita

Being a lifelong learner can of course mean different things to different people, however, at its core, it’s about cultivating curiosity and satisfying our thirst for knowledge and wisdom.

Lifelong learning embraces both formal and informal learning opportunities and enhances our understanding of the world around us.

Continuous learning throughout our lives can improve life-satisfaction, optimism, and self-confidence. The urge to explore and seek out new things helps us to remain vigilant and gain knowledge about our constantly changing environment. This may explain why our brains are evolved to release dopamine and other feel-good chemicals when we encounter new things.

Learning and developing new skills can also help to keep our brain strong and healthy which is especially beneficial as we get older.

Here are a few tips to help you be a lifelong learner:

Embrace a beginner’s mindset

Embracing a beginner’s mindset refers to having an attitude of openness, eagerness, and lack of preconceptions. The term is translated from the word, Shoshin, which comes from Zen Buddhism. By adopting a beginner’s mindset we approach every situation we encounter as if it is the first time we are experiencing it.

It helps us to be free of preconceptions of how something works and free of expectations about what will happen next. A beginner’s mindset helps us to be curious about understanding things more deeply and more open to a world of possibilities and fresh thinking.

Expand your world view

Our worldview is a framework of beliefs, values, and attitudes which affects everything we perceive, think, feel and do. As we evolve, we can become restricted by the boundaries of what we experience, so constantly expanding our worldview will help us to be more open to new experiences and learning.

Reading things that we don’t necessarily agree with or instigating conversations with people that challenge our perspective is a good place to start. Expanding our horizons by embracing new experiences will also help us to develop as well-rounded, balanced, and inclusive human beings. By keeping an open mind and open heart we will be able to constantly learn and grow.

Be curious

When we seek out challenges and new experiences, we broaden our horizons. It is the major ingredient of learning and life is never boring for a curious person. Curiosity and exploration can help us to embark on some of our greatest adventures. It is the first step our mind takes toward our most valuable discoveries.

Learning something new, overcoming challenges and exploring our potential are all possible because we are curious, and we have the desire and courage to explore.

Listen and Learn

Listening is one of the most powerful ways that we can learn. When we practise active listening, we focus on what someone else is saying rather than listening to the narrative that is going on in our own head. By being present and seeking to understand what the other person is saying without making assumptions and judgments can help us to absorb all the information that is being shared.

Everyone we meet knows something that we don’t and finding everyone we meet interesting is a great place to start. You never know what you will learn!

Read books

Books have the capacity to revolutionise our lives. They help us to gain new information, insights, and perspectives, learn about other people’s experiences, as well as expand our ideas and ambitions.

There are many benefits to reading as it has been scientifically proven to reduce stress, improve concentration and memory, strengthen our writing abilities and boost our creativity. Reading is key to adult education and lifelong learning.

Keep up to date with technology

Technology is advancing all the time and can provide us with some fun opportunities to practise what we learn as well as easy-to-access information on any subject we are interested in.

There is a wealth of online resources out there that will help us to learn. Whether it is listening to podcasts, downloading e-books, embarking on some distance-learning courses or joining forums, the possibilities are endless.

Manage your time well

Life in the “busy ages” is a constant bombardment of information and overwhelming choice, which can lead to feelings of overstimulation and agitation. Taking time out to stop and reflect on what is making us busy is a great place to start.

Great time management skills will help us to feel more in control of our energy levels and establish a better life balance. By managing our time well, we will be able to create more space and opportunities to learn new things and focus on our personal development. Scheduling time for learning as part of our daily plan is a great place to start.

Apply critical thinking skills

Critical thinking is the process of analysing, evaluating and rationalising information objectively. This helps us to draw conclusions from a set of information and discriminate between what is useful and what is not.

It is a way of thinking in which we don’t just accept everything we are exposed to at face value. Critical thinking is about taking on board an approach that will help us to rigorously question and challenge.

Learn – unlearn – relearn

In a rapidly changing world, continuous learning alone is not enough and our ability to unlearn and relearn is just as important. Continually evaluating and challenging knowledge to ensure what we learn is relevant and up to date is essential.

Unlearning is a process that starts with the acknowledgement that something we have learnt earlier is now incorrect or obsolete. We then need to erase the conditioning and misconceptions from our minds for good and relearn different information and behaviours. This can be challenging and requires effort, patience and persistence.

Convert learning into wisdom

Wisdom is the ability to contemplate and take action by applying knowledge, experience, understanding, common sense and insight.

The ability to learn and to actively do something constructive and beneficial with what we have learnt is the real wisdom. By embracing lifelong learning, we will never stop growing and as we live and learn we have the capacity to become wiser and more enlightened and fulfilled.

Commit yourself to lifelong learning. The most valuable asset you'll ever have is your mind and what you put into it.

Brian Tracy

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Please email liggy@liggywebb.com and quote LN22

Liggy Webb is an award-winning and bestselling author, presenter, and international consultant specialising in life skills. She is also the founding director and CEO of The Learning Architect, an international consortium of life skills specialists. She is recognised as a thought leader on resilience and behavioural agility and works with a wide range of businesses helping people to be more resilient, agile, and healthy in a volatile, uncertain, and highly complex world.